Prince Adegboyega Folaranmi Adedoyin
First African graduate of Queen’s University
Prince Adegboyega Folaranmi Adedoyin was born in 1922, the son of the akarigbo [king] of Ijebu Remo in Southern Nigeria.
He came to study medicine in Belfast in 1942 on advice from his brother ‘Zik’ who was studying in London. Soon after arriving in Northern Ireland (by boat), he became involved in local sports. This came about almost inadvertently, after he was invited to join in by the coach of a University team he was watching play.
He immediately revealed talent. In a first mention in the Irish Times (14 May 1946), the jornalist mentionned that “Adedoyin, a tall West African, has both the build and style of an athlete, and shows great promise, particularly as regards high jump”.
A week later (22 May) the same newspaper noted: “When Adedoyin first appeared it seemed to be his intention to go boating at Islanbridge. For he wore immaculate white flannel trousers, a check-coat, and a hat. He strolled about, taking the sun, for no little time, while C. Fitzergerald (…) repeatedly tried to jump the bar”.
Adedoyin won many competitions and broke several records. Among others, in 1945 he broke the high jump record at Queen’s University; in 1946 he broke the record at the Universities Athletics Union’s championship (with 6ft 1 inch); and in 1947 he won the AAA Championships with a clearance of 1.93 metres.
In 1948, he attended the Olympic games where he did not win a place on the podium but produced the best results for the whole British team. Overall his best jumps 7.35 metres in the long jump (1947) and 1.969 metres in the high jump (1949).
After graduating in 1949, Adedoyin married Hannah Hotoba-During, a Sierra-Leonian who had grown up in Belfast, and together they moved to Liverpool for work purposes. Soon after, they moved to Sierra Leone and then to Nigeria. Prince Adedoyin passed away on 31 January 2014 in Nigeria.